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Tuesday, May 29, 2018



ZINKE IN ND  “I just think we’re very fortunate to have someone in that role who grew up next door and understands North Dakota, appreciates North Dakota and wants to help us reach our full potential.” — Gov. Doug Burgum’s reaction to the four-day visit of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who addressed the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in Bismarck and emphasized his desire to partner with industry and increase innovation.  Also on the itinerary of the former Montana congressman was dinner with Gov. Burgum, discussions about locating the TR Presidential Library, and meetings with tribal leaders.

BAKKEN BRIGHTENS  The Petroleum Conference featured technologies that permit the oil industry to capture a higher percentage of crude oil from each new well.  Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm said their breakeven in the Bakken dropped from $70 to $26 a barrel due to increased efficiencies.  He said, “We would never have gained the efficiencies that we have today without going through that (low oil prices).”  Ron Ness, President of the ND Petroleum Council, said workforce recruiting has soared, while Job Service ND in Williston said job demand is similar to 2011.  ND Dir. of Mineral Resources Lynn Helms estimated the oil industry has cumulatively invested about $127 billion in the Bakken.
ND'S LEGACY FUND reached a balance of $5.3 billion at March 31.  The state's rainy day operating reserve was restored to a balance of $100 million this week.  Those results stem from better than expected oil prices and production.

CHARLIE KOURAJIAN (1930-2018)  “I can honestly say I don’t think there was anyone who loved Jamestown more than Charlie Kourajian.” — Jamestown Mayor Katie Andersen.  The son of Turkish immigrants is known for the sheer length and breadth of his community service in Jamestown.  He was a member of the city council for 40 years and served as mayor from 1997 to 2006.  Kourajian took a part-time job at the Jamestown Sun in 1944 when he was 14 and stayed for 45 years.  He was most noted for being “hands on” (when he saw a problem he fixed it), assisting people and demonstrating endless support for the city.  

WHICH WILL IT BE?  Both political parties did a poor job of vetting their candidates for ND Secretary of State.  Republican Will Gardner of Fargo plead guilty to disorderly conduct (window-peeping at a women’s dormitory) in 2006 when he was 29 years old.  Democrat Joshua Boschee of Fargo plead guilty to DUIs in 2006 and 2010, and drinking in public in 2011.  Voters were left with the choice of the drunk or the peeper?  Gardner withdrew this week, but both names remain on the June 12 primary ballot.

USING THE BACK DOOR  ND incumbent Secretary of State Al Jaeger was passed over for renomination at the 2018 Republican convention.  In response to Gardner’s withdrawal, Jaeger plans to run as an Independent in November — his only viable path to reelection.  He will receive Republican support and has been in office since 1993.

ABOUT TO THRIVE  “This is fantastic news for the city.  It’s the most construction the city will have seen for over 20 years, since the flood.” — Grand Forks City Council member Bret Weber.   Downtown GF has over a half dozen multi-million dollar projects.  Weber said it has taken a long time for GF to thrive after the flood, “but it’s about to happen in a really big way.”

HAMID SHIRVANI, perhaps you don’t remember him.  For 11 months in 2012 he was Chancellor of the ND University System.  He left ND with a $900,000 buyout and a fair amount of controversy, just as he had at his preceding job at California State University Stanislaus and his next job after ND, Briar Cliff College in Iowa.  Controversy stalks Shirvani, but he wants you to know it’s not his fault.  He said ND and Iowa were Trump states where he encountered bigotry, ignorance and fanaticism.  Shirvani is one of three finalists for president of the University of Guam.

NOT ONE GOOD WORD  The GF Herald disliked Shirvani’s comments and didn’t hold back: “So Shirvani's career path continues downhill, taking him to small — and now very remote — campuses in search of a job.  As he struggles to find work, he's chalking up his own checkered past to bigotry and, in his words, ‘ad hominem attacks.’“  The Herald gave him one more kick: “Shirvani comes with baggage, and any university that considers him is taking a great risk.”

COBB IS LOOSE AGAIN  In 2013, white supremacist Craig Cobb tried to turn the tiny south-central ND town of Leith into a place for like-minded individuals.  Nothing much happened, but Cobb was arrested for terrorizing, pleaded guilty and was placed under supervised probation.  He kept popping up around the state, but stayed out of trouble and on April 28 this year was allowed to remove the GPS from his leg.

TOUGH STANCE ON IMMIGRATION  Minnesota and ND were used as an entry point to Canada last winter for Africans, mostly Somali, seeking asylum.  The action has shifted to the northeastern U.S. where Haitians and Nigerians are entering Canada for asylum.  While Canada had welcomed those groups in the past, the sheer number is starting to overwhelm Canada’s immigration system.  As a consequence, Canada has toughened its standards and is accepting only 9 percent of Haitians and 33 percent of Nigerians.

FRAUD IN CCAP  Public assistance programs in the Twin Cities have a troubling history of fraud.  The latest target is Minnesota’s $250 million Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP).  A Fox 9 TV report alleges the program has massive fraud by the Somali community and a significant portion of the fraud benefits leave the MSP airport as cash in suitcases.  Such cash rose from $14 million in 2015 to $100 million in 2017, and Fox 9 claims some of that money reaches terrorist groups in Somalia.  CCAP pays Somali day-care owners $600 per child monthly.  Many of the allegations remain to be proven in a legal forum and the Somali community complains bitterly that they are once again the focus of a discriminatory hunt.

DAKTOIDS: Minnesota leads the nation in public spending per person on the arts.  The state spends $6 per capita, ND and SD spend $1-2 per capita, and Montana spends less than $1 . . . ND will join Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and Wyoming in a five-state tourism marketing strategy, “The Great American West.”  Fargo is eager to be a gateway . . .  Minneapolis and St. Paul topped the nation’s 100 largest cities for their park systems — Charlotte, N.C., and Mesa, Ariz., were at the bottom . . . A colonel at Minot AFB was ousted after his command lost a machine gun and ammo for a grenade launcher.



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